In Loving Memory of John Brace: 1958 – 2017

 

My name is John Brace.
I’m a 10 year Glioblastoma brain cancer survivor.
In 2002 my doctor told me I had 18 months to live.
I was 43 and in the prime of my life.
Stunned, I looked at my doctor and said “NO, not me!”
I thought to myself “I have so much more to do!”
I planned to see my 2 daughters through college.
I was going to walk them down the aisle.
When you get news like this you have to face it head on.
I asked the doctor, “How many survive this?”
The answer was not encouraging, “Only 3% make it past ten years.”

I was determined to be a survivor.
I knew I needed to be one of the 3 percent.
I wondered what was common about that group.
What would be the secret to achieving 3 percent?
I thought about it and researched it, thinking my life may depend on the answer.

My doctor said there are 3 things common among survivors. He listed:
1. Access to good medical care and assistance from the Chris Elliott Fund, www.ChrisElliottFund.org
2. A good support group of family and friends.
3. Survivors didn’t drastically change their lives.

The first, access to good medical care.
There are two reasons this is important.
Obviously access to the latest and best medicine and treatment is important.
Modern medicine is constantly improving.
There are even better treatments now than when I went through it.
The other part about good medicine is not so obvious and that is:
It’s important to believe you’re doing what you need to do to be a survivor.
I felt confident I had good medical care. That was one less thing to worry about.
Do some of your own research to know you’re getting the best medical care possible.
Contact and work with the Chris Elliott Fund, who provides day-to-day patient and caregiver care and can assist in learning about, providing access and helping you enroll into a clinical trial. Their Health Information Concierges have traveled this road and have learned what they would do differently and have learned what one must know to have access to the best individualized treatment for this disease. They can also be reached at 800-574-5703.

Number 2 is “a good support group”.
I asked myself why that would be a factor for surviving?
I think having people around that care and love you is important to encourage you to fight.
When you are taking on any challenge or fight you need to believe you can win.
A good support group can help give you that.

And last #3 “survivors don’t drastically change their lives”.
Don’t change their lives? Why would that make a difference?
I thought hard about it – like my life depended on this little secret.
I was going through intense grief for me and my family.
I couldn’t let it cloud my thinking and I didn’t want to be overwhelmed by grief.
I needed to stay peaceful and calm; I have work to do.
I was determined to solve the mystery of the third component common to survivors.
I’m the stubborn type and I was going to hit that 3%!

One day a friend told me since my time is limited, I should take some of my savings and vacation time and go helicopter skiing in France.
I remember thinking”NO! I’ll need my savings because I’m going to beat this cancer!”
Then it hit me.
The answer is: Most survivors don’t change their lives because…
Survivors believe they are going to survive.

Well, here I am. It’s 2013 – 10 years later.
5 years after my diagnosis my doctor asked, “What’s your secret?”
I told him “Dark beer and good Seattle coffee.”
“Well, whatever you do keep it up.”
The truth is I have my tricks – which are not secret